Ferguson tackles nuclear waste route fears


Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson is battling to calm fears along possible routes to a proposed nuclear waste dump at a location that is yet to be determined. <br /><br /> Wherever it is placed, the cargo that Ferguson described as “intermediate waste” will be transported in containers on B-double trucks. Ferguson has sought to cast the issue in the light of needing to deal with the by-product of crucial nuclear medicine developments at the Lucas Heights facility in Sydney’s west.

By Rob McKay | September 29, 2011

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson is battling to calm fears along possible routes to a proposed nuclear waste dump at a location that is yet to be determined.

Wherever it is placed, the cargo that Ferguson described as "intermediate waste" will be transported in containers on B-double trucks.

Ferguson has sought to cast the issue in the light of needing to deal with the by-product of crucial nuclear medicine developments at the Lucas Heights facility in Sydney’s west and also mentioned the amount of unranium that already passes through South Australia and the Northern Territory.

However, according to a 2009 Transport Assessment Report by Parsons Brinkerhoff for the Government, there will also be:

Defence Department, Army and other waste from Bandiana, near Wodonga, and Melbourne in Victoria

waste from Woomera, Adelaide, Salisbury and Mt Gambier in South Australia along with reprocessed Australian waste being returned from overseas, either through Port Adelaide or Darwin

The 20-foot container numbers were expected to be 245 from Woomera, 230 from Sydney, 17 from Adelaide and one each from Melbourne and Bandiana.

That report canvassed solutions offered by Toll and Linfox as well as road and road/rail options.

Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory has received much attention since the local Ngapa people nominated it as a site in the last years of the Coalition Government.

Ferguson has remarked that if that option fails in the Federal Court, there is an existing dump at Woomera in South Australia.

Clouding the issue has been public opposition from councils on in the Blue Mountains, from elements in South Australia and from the Greens.

Other options the transport assessment looked at were Mt Everard and Harts Range, near Alice Springs, and Fishers Ridge, near Katherine.

"There is no site," Ferguson told ABC Radio.

"If I get the bill through the Senate and I have the support of the Coalition despite the endeavours by the Greens to frustrate our national requirements, there will then be a detailed process of consultation.

"Firstly to determine whether or not a site volunteered - and so on a voluntary basis - meets the necessary scientific and regulatory requirements.

"If we then select an appropriate site, there are detailed processes to consult local communities in terms of the potential transportation of radioactive waste.

"And I might also say it then requires a licence from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency to ensure that the transport arrangements fully comply with the existing code of practice."

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